A few nights ago, I lay awake unable to sleep. My eyes darted around searching for answers in the dark. What if the yurts don’t arrive on time? What if there’s a root we can’t dig around? What if we go over our budget?
What if, what if, what if…
In life, things build up: work, family, struggling to find the balance between the two, bills, and self-generated doubts. What if I could let go of the “what if’s”?
Yesterday, I climbed Jenkins Mountain with my younger sister Mallory. Mallory is well known for her smile and upbeat “can do” attitude. On trail we talked candidly about the unknowns in our lives. There were no preconceived images we had to uphold among the trees and ferns.
On the summit, we looked off to the high peaks. We sat down and stretched our legs. It felt good to sweat and it recharged my spirits. I picked up a stick and broke it in half. I instructed Mallory to do the same.
“Think of something you want to let go.”
Mallory closed her eyes and thoughtfully meditated on the idea. I twirled the stick between my fingers.
“I want to let go of self-doubt,” I said and tossed the stick over the edge. It fell out of sight.
“Pleasing others,” she laughed. “I want to focus on me.”
I nodded and two sticks remained.
“Now, think of something you want to hold on to.” I said.
My mind reflected on the week and what got me from one day to the next.
“Faith,” I said. “Belief that it will work out the way it’s meant to.”
“Patience,” she said. “It’s okay if it takes a little longer than expected.”
We tucked the sticks in our small pack and headed down the trail—both a little lighter on our feet.
Exercise: Something to Hold Onto, Something to Let Go
Want to give it a try? It helps! You don’t even have to climb a mountain (though it is pretty scenic).
Find a place in nature that speaks to you: Mountain top, meadow, lake, river, fire side or forest.
Find two objects: One to represent something you want to let go and the other to represent what to hang onto. Objects that work well: Sticks, rocks, leaves, feathers, flowers, and pine cones.
Clasp the two objects in your hand and think about what’s happening in your life. For the object to let go, think about what’s dragging you down or making you anxious or worried. For the object to hang on to, think about what’s giving you strength or making you happy.
Let it go: either out loud or in your mind, say what you are letting go of. Throw the object away from you (over the edge of the mountain, into the lake or into a fire). Take a deep breath and think about what it means to let that go.
Hang on: Say what you are hanging on to. Carry this object home with you and put it in a special place. Every time you see it, it will be a pleasant reminder.